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Hermann Witsius on the Mosaic Covenant

Hermann_WitsiusHermann Witsius (1636-1703) was a Reformed theologian from the Netherlands. In his book Economy of the Covenants, where Witsius was trying to reconcile two camps of Covenant Theology, we find a great source for post-Reformation covenant theology. It is a work that all students of covenant theology should own and read. For more information you can go to this blog which is dedicated to him. There you can read his works (including those on the covenants) or purchase them here.

What does Witsius understand the function of the Mosaic covenant to be? And how does Witsius understand the relationship of the Mosaic covenant in the New Testament? In this post I want to argue that Witsius saw the Mosaic with more of a typological emphasis than Calvin. And he used this typological emphasis to aid his understanding of the function and purpose of the Mosaic. In other words, Witsius has a hermeneutic that Fesko describes in The Law is Not of Faith, as more redemptive historical contrasted with Calvin’s which is more historical-grammatical. While the substance of their views is the same (salvation by grace through faith in Christ), the difference is found in the different emphasis of the Mosaic one writer makes over the other. (more…)

The Mosaic Covenant, Was a Type of Works Principle, According to Calvin

John_Calvin_2When the subject of the covenant God made with Moses (The Mosaic Covenant) comes up it raises a number of questions. Questions such as, “What was the purpose of the Mosaic covenant?” “What purpose does the Mosaic covenant have for New Testament Christians?” or “How are we to understand the function of the Mosaic covenant in relation to the work of Jesus?” I hope to explore some of these questions and use/recommend the book The Law is Not of Faith Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant to facilitate the discussion.

At the start it should be stated that I do not find that there was an overall consensus on this subject. J.V. Fesko, in his chapter, quotes one of the Westminster Divines Anthony Burgess (d. 1664) speaking to this

“I do not find in any point of divinity, learned men so confused and perplexed (being like Abraham’s ram, hun in a bush of briars and brambles by the head) as here.” (Law is Not of Faith, 25)